Just before 9 p.m. on Sunday, April 25, residents of the Chehalem Pointe apartment complex on Park Lane in Newberg say they heard an explosion. Looking out their windows or running to the parking lot, they discovered a van engulfed in flames, which local fire officials responded to post-haste. Efforts by some residents to help put out the flames in the meantime were futile, as it took a crew of firefighters to douse the van's smoldering inferno.
The carpet cleaning van belonged to Chico's Cleaning & Restoration, owned by Tomas Gutierrez Morales of Hubbard. Morales is contracted to clean the carpets at Chehalem Pointe, according to manager Sunny Huffman, and was in the middle of cleaning an apartment when the fire broke out.
Crews from Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue and the Dundee Fire Department responded jointly to the blaze, which was determined to be caused by an equipment failure in Morales's carpet cleaning machine. There were no injuries, but there was some minor damage to adjacent cars in the lot.
"Crews from TVF&R and Dundee Fire responded quickly," Kim Haughn, public affairs officer for TVF&R, said. "They were able to keep flames mostly contained to the van with some spread to adjacent vehicles. Thankfully, it did not spread to the apartment complex structure and no injuries were reported."
Huffman said the fire resulted in a total loss of the van and all of the equipment inside it. Insurance will cover some of the damage, she said, but it still puts Morales in a serious financial bind as the sole provider for his family.
That's why Huffman decided to start a GoFundMe page to raise money for Morales while his business recovers.
"Tomas is a hard-working family man," she said. "He didn't originally know that my husband and I made him a GoFundMe. We are trying to help him out of the goodness of our hearts, and we hope others will too."
Those interested in donating to the GoFundMe effort can do so at bit.ly/2QEGTjg.
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